FX chief throws shade at Netflix and the way it projects viewers

John Landgraf has a bone to pick with Netflix. Big time.

During his opening statements Monday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, the FX CEO veered from touting his own programming by slamming the way the streaming service recently reported the projected success of YOU and Sex Education. Netflix announced — and the media reported — that the drama it picked up from Lifetime garnered more than 40 million views from it subscribers within its first four weeks.

“It makes you think it’s the No. 1 show on American TV,” complained Landgraf.

What irked Landgraf is how Netflix counts a viewer. In the case of YOU, Netflix projected 40 million Netflix accounts around the world would watch at least 70 percent of one episode within the series’ first four weeks on the platform.

But when the Nielsen rules are applied to YOU’s performance on Netflix, it actually averages 8 million viewers per episode. (Nielsen calculates average viewership by adding up all of the viewed minutes of a program and dividing it by the program’s duration.) Netflix made similar projections for the new Sex Education, which if Nielsen rules are applied only averaged over 3 million per episode.

“It’s just not a good thing for society when one entity gets to unilaterally make the rules or pronounce the truth,” said Landgraf. “I genuinely believe the rules should be made as a common good by everyone … I don’t like the notion that any one entity gets to decide what is true and make their own news without your being able to check the facts. It bothers me on a fundamental level.”

The CEO then relied on a bunch of baseball analogies about how Netflix’s practice to report singles and homers “misrepresent the scale of their hits. They are giving the impression that a vast majority of the shows on the platform are working,” he added. “They have the best batting average.”

“Netflix has very good shows,” he added. “No one is exempt from reality … the truth will ultimately come out, as it always does.”

He did eventually chat up his new shows like Fosse/Verdon. More on that later.

Related content: 

  • FX announces Fosse/Verdon series premiere date
  • FX chief accuses Netflix of overspending: ‘Fishing with hand grenades’


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